Just two per cent of users would pay for a website that they currently use for free, according to a new survey published today KPMG.
The KPMG Media and Entertainment Barometer study also revealed that despite growing use of digital media, a large majority of respondents said they prefer printed products over online and mobile devices.
The report – which was based on three Yougov surveys, the latest of which took place in September this year – found that 86 per cent of respondents prefer to read their media offline rather than online.
David Elms, KPMG head of media, said: “Over the past year traditional media has held up well, and despite the ever growing availability of online media, consumers still expect and consume both.
“This has led to a mixed ecology, with people accessing content in the traditional way and online. The popularity of consuming media in the traditional way remains very resilient.”
The survey found that 27 per cent of Britons own a smartphone (rising to between 43 and 44 per cent for 18-34 year-olds). At present, just two per cent own an iPad style tablet computer.
The study also suggested that 13 per cent of respondents paid for online content (up from 11 per cent last year). Of these, 19 per cent paid for business news and analysis and a further 19 per cent pay for online newspapers and magazines.
According to KPMG, overall: “Only two per cent would pay for unrestricted access to a website they use regularly if a paywall was introduced”.
The September 2010 survey (which had more than 2,000 respondents) revealed that 79 per cent had read a newspaper in the past month and 77 per cent a print magazine.
According to KPMG, the percentage reading a free newspaper had increased from 15 per cent to 26 per cent in the space of a year and the proportion reading a free magazine had increased from 12 per cent to 24 per cent.
Overall, 49 per cent said they had used the web for social networking in the last month (in the September survey) and 32 per cent had used it to access online news.
Nine per cent of respondents said they would possibly become a paid subscriber and 59 per cent said they would pay for films, 50 per cent music and 33 per cent online newspapers and magazines.
Elms added: “Whilst the appetite to pay for web content is moving slowly, the pace of spending money to download content on mobile devices is moving much more quickly, particularly in the crucial 18-34 demographic.
“A key question is whether consumers, increasingly used to paying for premium content on their mobiles and tablets, will become more willing to pay for online content to their desktop – but, at the moment, it is too early to identify any discernible trends.
“The rise of the smartphone and tablet, particularly among the key 18-34 demographic, highlights the potential for mobile advertising to this elusive audience. The potential for mobile advertising has been recognised for some time and that potential may now be on the cusp of being realised.”